2016 Annual Review

This has been one crazy year.

To say that this year hasn’t been much fun is a bit of an understatement….

With Brexit and Trump being elected (WTF?????), it won’t have been the greatest year for many.

This sums the year up for me (15 seconds):

2016 has been one of the worst years of my life.

Still – a lot of good has come from it. Wales made it to the semi-finals in the Euros for example, (even if I almost had a heart attack while watching them), and it could be much worse. I don’t live in Syria and I’m not a Syrian refugee. That would be tough.


Health and Fitness

Bizarrely, in some ways, I got into the best shape ever. I’ve never been that bothered by my weight and have spent most of my life a little overweight. This year I managed to lose a bit of puppy fat and I’m leaner then I’ve ever been before. Personally, I think being thin is overrated, but I know it’s healthier, so that’s all good ?.

I spent a massive amount of money on health and fitness related activities this year. I started going to a gym for the first time, something I unexpectedly enjoy. I went to my first spinning class, (which almost killed me, but I made it through). I found out that I have pretty decent core strength, (have no idea how!), and started running (around Hyde Park listening to the Rocky soundtrack like a maniac).

I met with several nutritionists and majorly improved my diet.

I had regular saunas which I love.

I spent a few months applying the Wim Hof method, (breathe motherfucker!).  I need to get back into that.

I did a Transcendental Meditation course after my mind got so wired that I found it difficult to focus on my breathing a la Headspace.

I spent a fortune on acupuncture, and started seeing a therapist, (for the reasons that this year didn’t go so well).

I went to a few yoga classes, and started learning tai chi for the first time, (it’s a lot harder and more fun than it looks).

I’ve also been experimenting with intermittent fasting which has been interesting, albeit tough!

I’ve been under a great deal of pressure in lots of ways this year. I don’t really know how I’ve handled things, but I’m proud of myself for dealing with it, (well…I’m trying my best).

I’m super grateful for the NHS and all the amazing people who work there. Despite its faults I’m lucky to have access to it. I’d be completely screwed if I lived in the US without private medical cover right now.

I also have a renewed appreciation for pretty much everything in my life.


We finally moved into a decent rental place. This was one of the best thing that happened this year. After almost 3 years of temporary accommodation and moving all over the place, it’s been a welcome change. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s by far the nicest place we’ve ever lived.

The location is convenient for so many reasons and I love living so close to the park. It’s near where Andrew and I lived when we first met. It’s good to be back.

We bought some decent furniture and have a comfortable bed and sofa, which we’ve never had before. 🙂


I finally got a lot more flexibility work wise and had some awesome colleagues at the start of the year.

I ended up working remotely and got a wonderful role working for a company that I always dreamt of working for. The company had a reputation for being difficult to get into, and it was a big achievement for me. I was very proud of it. (See what didn’t go so well for more on this).

I was also invited to work with several people that I’ve worked with in the past. I turned down the opportunities as I had the new role lined up, but it was a privilege to be asked.


I read a lot of great books this year. I’ve always been careful when it came to spending money on books. This year that went out of the window and I started buying any book that was recommended or interested me.

I’ve learnt a lot about medical and health related topics. It’s been stressful but also fascinating.

Language wise I didn’t make massive progress, but I started getting back into Spanish and Japanese, and learnt a bit of Chinese.


Having been away for most of the last 3 years, I was feeling disconnected in many ways. This year I’ve definitely made progress in terms of deepening my relationships, and have managed to catch up with almost all of my good friends.  I’m not the best communicator and have trouble forging deep connections but I think I’ve improved a bit this year.

My partner Andrew has been amazing and I’ve been super grateful, (and surprised in some cases), by the amount of support and generosity I’ve received from my friends, including those overseas, which I haven’t been able to see.

Two of my best mates got married this year. Both weddings were awesome and I was lucky to make it to both. (Looking forward to crashing your honeymoon in Sydney Mr and Mrs V! 😉 )

My gorgeous niece was born at the start of the year, (otherwise known as psycho baby), and my sister came to visit with her kids a few times. My brother also visited for the first time, and I got to spend a whole day with his son, which was awesome. My wilder younger cousin moved to London, and for the first time I have some family living nearby, which is cool.

Andrew’s sister visited from Australia for the first time.  We had glorious weather when she was here. I also got to see my uncle a few times. I’ve only interacted with him a handful of times in my life. It’s been cool to spend time with him.

We are hoping to make it to Oz to catch up with friends and family before the year ends. We haven’t caught up with people over there for more than two years. Andrew’s sister is moving to Nepal for a while and we may not see them for a long time after that. It’s a good time to go.


We fortunately got away to Dubai for a week. I’ve never had the urge to visit before, but it was just what we needed. We stayed in an awesome place, enjoyed the sun and relaxed for the first time in over a year.


I continued my business mentoring and started going to a Church, (mainly for Andrew’s sake).

I don’t really know what I believe right now, and I disagree with a lot of Christian dogma – the Church’s stance on things like homosexuality for example. I find it hard to believe that one religion is correct and that others are wrong. The main moral principles of every religion seem to be the same, like compassion, and treating others like you would like to be treated etc.

The people I’ve met at our church nearby, and randomly at a church in Painswick (thanks Reverand Michael), have been kind and supportive, and it’s good to get to know people nearby.

I’ve also enjoyed slowly getting to know my neighbour, and guys at Exponential View.

Wine ?

Our generous friend Adrian, a first class vigneron from the Barossa Valley visited us in February and we enjoyed some iconic wines.

I’ve bought a lot of great wine over the years. Most of it to be saved for a special occasion. I’ve since decided that every day is a special occasion, and it’s not worth waiting for the “ideal” time. It may never materialise. I don’t drink as much as I used to, and now tend to crack into better bottles when I do. I really enjoy sharing good wine with friends.


I was paid to licence one of my photos to National Geographic’s Traveller magazine in Spain. I’m not sure how it happened. It was pretty cool, but it happened at a really bad time, which I guess overshadowed any excitement I felt.


I got to see Van Morrison in a tiny jazz club which was amazing. I also got to see Mumford & Sons in Hyde Park. It was a good concert but was on a pretty difficult day for us, so I was pretty emotional throughout!


Photo by Anwen Garston from http://agarston.com

For the first time we got a real live Christmas tree. It’s 8 foot high and is taking up half of our living room. Andrew had to saw the top off it to make it fit. Behold the Christmas beast:



My grandfather passed away earlier this year. He was 99, three months short of his 100th birthday, and had been ill for a while. It was a sad time and I miss him. He was an inspiring guy in many ways and I learnt a lot from him.


There’s been a lot of stress around health related matters this year, (to put it mildly). On the upside, I’m definitely in a better position than I was at the start of the year. As a result of what’s happened, I’m struggling with a massive mistrust of medical professionals. I know lawyers have a bad rep, but a few medics I’ve met this year have been super sketchy.

I’ve had trouble sleeping and switching off this year. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, and it’s definitely got worse over the last few months. I need to sort it out. I also need to drink more water.


I was hoping to take several city breaks this year. They didn’t happen.


I did well at the start of the year, writing semi-consistently. I did less well in the latter half when I hardly published anything.


I didn’t put half as much energy into my photography this year. We also lost our GoPro.


I discovered how weak or non-existent some relationships I valued really are, which was painful. I suspected that this was the case, but was still shocked by the lack of support. It’s been a difficult learning curve and has made me value the good relationships in my life even more.

This year has been hard for Andrew – the dude has had a brutal year thanks to me. I find this really hard and feel guilty about it all. I love him so much.

I didn’t get up to see my grandmother in north Wales as much as I would have liked. It’s been a tough year for her too. She really misses my Taid. They were together for almost 68 years – amazing.

Trump and Brexit

I was angry, shocked, and upset, over Brexit, and Trump getting elected. Has the world gone insane?

I still can’t believe that either have happened, and I’m deeply disturbed by the senseless wave of xenophobia that appears to have engulfed much of the western world. As always, my frustration with fake news, and the media’s negative sensationalising of pretty much everything has continued.

Worth watching (3 minutes, 50 seconds):


The role I got unexpectedly fell through late this year. I didn’t get a chance to start.

I guess things can always get worse.

I was pretty shocked, and majorly disappointed.  I’m still not sure why, or how it really happened. Along with other issues, it was probably one of the lowest points of the year. With Andrew’s contract coming to an end in December and no more work lined up, we are not in a great place financially. I need to sort that out pronto.

At the start of the year I was adamantly looking for a long term role with a company with which my values were aligned and where I felt I could have an impact. Right now, I’m not sure if that’s going to be possible, which is demoralising. Hopefully things will work out somehow.


Many of my mates had a rough year in 2016. It’s been a memorable and historic year for many in various dark ways (four minutes, forty seconds):

Here’s hoping for a lighter, happier 2017 ?.

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